Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation
Coming home may be the end of one journey for many of our veterans; it is also the beginning of the transition to a “new normal.” Helping them reach this “new normal” is the primary focus of the American Legion Auxiliary. Auxiliary members are passionate about providing care and comfort to our heroic U.S. servicemembers who are so highly deserving of everything we can possibly do for them.
At Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, Auxiliary-sponsored gift shops and holiday parties have become a revered tradition and valued program. Members, units, and departments also purchase essential equipment and supplies for these facilities.
Provide opportunities for Auxiliary members to serve veterans and their families as volunteers at VA health care facilities through the VA Voluntary Service (VAVS).
There isn’t a VA hospital close to your community? Find opportunities for Auxiliary members to serve veterans in your area. These hours will count toward your Service to Veterans pin and hour bars. Service to Veterans Service to Veterans recognizes volunteers who provide service to veterans, servicemembers and their families outside a VAMC. Volunteers conduct projects and work for military/veterans and/or families from their homes and in their communities. Service to Veterans volunteers maintain their own record keeping and dollars spent. A new pin has been designed to reflect the work of those who volunteer in their communities and at home for veterans. Hour bars, which attach to the pin, are also available to earn. More information may be in the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: A Guide for Volunteers available online for download at www.alaforveterans.org. To purchase a printed copy, please visit www.emblem.legion.org.
Assist veterans in accessing VA benefits including, but not limited to, health care. This should include coordinating with the local American Legion Post Service Officer.
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Invite the local, county or state Service Officer to be the guest speaker at a unit/department event.
Assist in activities that help homeless veterans.
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- Give a helping hand to the Legion’s homeless veteran coordinator in your department and offer to assist that coordinator in responding to requests for assistance from homeless veterans or homeless veteran service providers.Crochet hats, scarves or mittens to be distributed to homeless veterans.
- Use information provided by your department chairman to contact the homeless veteran coordinator at the VA health care system nearest you to explore what the unit or you can do to help homeless veterans in your community.
- Participate in the VA Project CHALENG organized by the VA health care system nearest to you. (Project CHALENG for Veterans enhances the care for homeless veterans provided by your local VA and its surrounding community service agencies.)
- Contact your local post chairman and offer your assistance if requests for help come through the Legion’s Family Support Network (FSN).
- Raise funds for local American Legion posts to help veterans and their families through the Family Support Network for veterans at risk of losing their housing or homeless veterans transitioning to permanent housing.
- Make payments of overdue rent, utility payments or deposits and security deposits.
- Host or volunteer at homeless veterans’ stand downs, events where homeless veterans receive free goods and services such as haircuts and medical exams.
- Contact homeless veteran emergency shelters, transitional housing projects and permanent housing projects in your community and identify the organization’s volunteer and in-kind contribution needs, including:
- Meal preparation and serving.
- Clothes collection and distribution
- Assembly and delivery of hygiene kits, buddy baskets
- Purchasing or securing household items or furniture
- Reach out to specific homeless veterans, such as residents of projects mentioned above to provide her/him practical, social and moral support.
- Compile “blessing bags” to be given to the local police department or other organizations that deal with the homeless veteran population.
- Create a “Tree of Warmth” by collecting scarves, mittens, hats and attaching them to a tree in a location the homeless frequent. Include a sign that says “Please Take if Needed,” “Free if Needed,” or something similar.
Help The American Legion, State Department of Veterans Affairs and Chamber of Commerce promote job fairs for veterans and their families.
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- Host an informational table at a local job fair.
- Support the Legion by helping host a local job fair at your post home.
Assist and support caregivers of veterans.
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- Familiarize your unit and community with the services of the VA caregiver support program.
- Invite the VA caregiver support coordinator in the VA healthcare system closest to you to make a presentation to your unit, district or community-wide meeting.
National Veterans Creative Arts Festival
Art can be powerful medicine. More than a decade ago, the American Legion Auxiliary connected with an amazing event that assists veterans in healing from both their physical and psychological wounds through visual and performing arts.
The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) annually showcases the artistic achievements of veterans being treated at VA facilities across the country. More than 140 winners of art competitions at local VA facilities are invited to participate in the national festival, which includes a week of workshops and tours as well as a grand finale stage show for the singers, dancers, musicians, writers, and actors, and a public exhibition for the visual artists. The Auxiliary is a cosponsor of NVCAF, along with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.